Let’s get physical: Gyms bounce back 1

Gyms have reopened with customers getting back in shape after months of being at home. One gym owner said many are asking about safety protocols before even finding out the cost, while another gym manager said people are returning without concern.

Residents hoping to burn off calories they put on in quarantine, or just build some muscle, have been heading back to gyms that reopened on Sept. 2.

“So far it’s been a very positive turnout for the gym business,” said Warren DeStefano, owner of Retro Fitness in Glendale and Forest Hills.

He said business is about 80 to 85 percent of what it was before the coronavirus hit, better than he expected.

“Right now, people are not looking at price,” DeStefano said. “They’re looking at, what are you doing to make us safe?”

People would often call asking how much membership costs. DeStefano said he hasn’t been receiving those calls anymore as interested customers now ask about safety.

“When we tell them the protocols, they’re like, ‘OK, I’ll join. By the way, how much is it?’” DeStefano said.

While exercising, people need to stay 6 feet apart and wear masks. DeStefano said older people coming to exercise come at times when it’s less crowded.

Customers need to answer four questions before entering, informing the gym if they have COVID, if they’ve been around someone with it, it they’ve been out of the country and if they have a fever. DeStefano said a nurse was turned away because she had been around people with COVID.

“We go by strict guidelines,” he said.

New air filters have been installed and will be replaced every 30 days. Spray bottles and paper towels are all over the gyms, and every other cardio machine is roped off.

DeStefano said nobody has complained about wearing a mask while working out and that when someone lowers one, the other customers will take notice.

“It’s like self-policing,” he said.

Outdoor classes, which began over the summer, are still being held.

Coliseum Gym on Jamaica Avenue in Woodhaven hasn’t seen a drop in customers because people are coming in from other gyms in the area that have closed.

Shabeer Rizvi, general manager of Coliseum, said people do not seem too scared to return.

“I think everyone’s a little too excited to go back,” he said. “Definitely not scared.”

Some of the closed locations provided equipment to the Coliseum Gym. Customers need to practice social distancing and wipe the machines down before and after working out.

Rizvi, who described Coliseum as a “bodybuilding and powerlifting gym,” said there has been a fairly even mix of people doing weight training and cardio workouts.

The atmosphere at the reopened gyms is advantageous for exercising, as people can work out in a fitness setting once again.

“It looks like everyone’s sick and tired of working out at home,” Rizvi said. “There’s only that much you can do at home.”

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